Friday, September 20, 2013

saying goodbye to a loyal friend...

Today we said goodbye to the 7th member of our immediate family...our van.  *sniff sniff*  We put 175,106 FUN miles on that baby and even though she could have probably gone at least 25,000 more, it was time to let her rest.  Oh, but the memories made in there will last us a lifetime!  We brought Cate home from the hospital in that van, spent countless hours sitting in parking lots during practices...chatting, doing homework, eating dinner, watching movies, napping... and at least 100,000 of those miles were spent on the road headed to and from baseball and soccer tournaments to cheer on our boys.  She was loyal to us for six great years and I'll always think of her and smile when I drive past another T & C white beast! 

Ok, so let me start with the shopping is painful.  There is a reason my dad used to walk onto a lot, point to a car, and buy it without even test driving it.  It's because car shopping stinks.  Did you know Scott and I are the worst decision makers of all time?  We are.  It takes us hours to decide what we're having for dinner so you can imagine how awful choosing a new car was.  I have been researching and checking every dealership's website in the St Louis area for the last month.  There are A LOT of dealerships in the St. Louis area. 

We knew what we needed...another van.  Basically, it's the only thing that can accommodate a family of six plus luggage for all said passengers AND two huge baseball bags.  Yes, we could have chosen an extended SUV, but there is no way Scott could have parked that in our beloved swimming pools narrow parking lot so it was quickly crossed off the list.  (And besides, the $100+ tank of gas once a week would have seriously cut down on my weekly fieldtrips to thank you.)  So, a van it was.  We had a few "must haves".... low miles, DVD player, back-up camera, leather seats, and plenty of cargo space in the way-back.  After going back and forth about it forever, we decided to buy a 'slightly' used car rather than brand-spanking new.  I am hoping we are at the tail end of our mini-van days so a $40,000+ van for just a few years seemed unnecessary.  So, I compiled a list of Smallie-worthy vans and Scott and I spent yesterday car shopping.  Test-driving, negotiating, decisions, oh my.  After much consideration, we chose...

wait for it....

wait for it...

drumroll please...

Lame?  A little.  Creatures of habit?  For sure.  By the way, that is not a picture of our actual van, which you probably figured because there is no ocean front property in the Lou, but I haven't had time to take an official photo yet.  However, it does look exactly like that.  Volkswagen Routan SEL new home away from home.  Super low miles-check. Back-up camera-check.  Leather seats-check.  Lots of cargo space-check.  Plus, TWO DVD players, push-button stow-away seating, and enough cup holders in the front seats alone that I can enjoy EIGHT Hit-N-Run fountain Pepsi's at one time.  Not that I would.  But I could.  And because it was used, we scored a great deal and were able to forgo financing and pay cash.  Hip Hip Hooray! Which Scott thought meant we would have to take an actual bag of cash to the dealer when we finalized the figure.  (See what I have to deal with people?!  Now you understand why I'm crazy?!)  Anyhoo, I drove back over there today, forged signed all of the paperwork by myself..(I'm practically a grown up now.*pat myself on the back*), said goodbye to my old "mobile-home" and took my new BFF on her first trip to Target.  It was a beautiful thing. 
Wow, that turned out to be a long story. 
Bottom line is...
We are one mini-van closer to a 2-seater car. 
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Saturday, September 7, 2013

we're making progress...

Cate's first two days of kindergarten were great.  No tears, no complaints, and she had a great time.  Then the weekend happened and Monday was a different story.  She was a little teary when I walked her to her classroom and then at 1:00 I received a call from her teacher's asst. saying that Cate had been crying most of the day.  I realize this would have made most mothers very anxious, however, I am just coming off 16 years of having kids home every day~all day and my response was "I don't have to come get her, do I?" Thankfully her answer was no, and that that would only encourage Cate to cry every day.  So, when we got home and she asked about school on Tuesday, I told her that I would pick her up for lunch and she could come home and chill out for an hour...but only, if she did not cry about having to go back after lunch.  A deal was made.  It seemed like her biggest issue with school was recess.  There are "too many rules on the playground" and "not enough shade" and sometimes "I get sweaty".  Three things Miz Cate despises :)  So, for seven days, I picked her up for lunch and things got much better.  On Wednesday, I told her if she stayed at school all day for the rest of the week, we would take her to Build-A-Bear workshop for a new stuffed animal.  Don't judge me people, it was getting hard to work my "me" time around that 60 minute lunch.  And as with the other Smallie children, it worked.  I guess it's hard to finally realize the world does not revolve around you.  Poor Catie Bug.  Although when I asked her if she ever used the school bathroom, she said "yes, but I go before or after my class so I have the whole bathroom to myself because I hate waiting in line."  Some things never change

Brady is such a trooper...Cate insists they color coordinate everyday.  And he drops into her classroom a few times each day to check up on her and make sure she's doing ok.  He's the best big brother ever.

Other than a little separation anxiety, Cate is loving school. Her teacher is absolutely fabulous and she knows almost all of her classmates from soccer or the pool.  We go over her wall words every night before bed and we're half way done with her 100 book reading goal (due in April). And if anyone has any questions about what goes on in her class during the day, just ask her. She gives us a very detailed run-down of the days events and who was doing what.   
Thursday night was the first skating party of the school year and Cate was so excited.  Sure she's been going for years with Brady and Ben, but this time she was legit!! She even threw out her 3-wheeled princess skates and insisted on wearing Brady's real Rollerblades. I didn't think she stood a chance on them, but of course she proved me wrong and skated non-stop for 90 minutes.  (Brady chose to stay at Carter's soccer game and skip the party)
Neon themed party!  Sister was glowing!
Cate and Ryan

Reid and Cate.  Candi has chosen these as their wedding colors :)  (and btw, Reid didn't have his skates on in this picture, which is why Cate looks like a giant!  His mean mother made them leave early)
Cate LOVES hanging out with older girls.  Thankfully, she has some pretty awesome role models that are so very sweet with her.  Quinn and Whitney rock!! (unfortunately, they've moved on to Grigsby, but we're so glad they showed up to the skating party with their siblings!)

See how fast they're going...can barely see them :)

 So, that's the break down of the first few weeks of school.  A little rocky at first, but we're working it out and things are looking up.  Funny how now that I have all four kids in school, I dread the weekends!  And the thought of holiday breaks makes me a little sick to my stomach :)  Hooray for Mon-Fri!
And I need to give a shout out to Worthen Elementary school.  Everyone has been so kind and caring with Cate these last few weeks... I love knowing that all of the teachers are looking out for her.  And I'm also very thankful that they've let me bend the rules and walk her to her class every morning and even after lunch on the days I picked her up.  Well, technically, no one has "let" me walk her to class, but no one has said anything to me about it either, so I'm assuming they're just ignoring it :) Regardless, it's made it much easier on Cate! I love our school!

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Wednesday, September 4, 2013


A few weeks ago (I can't remember the date and can't find it written on any calendar) our nephew Jon graduated the Naval Boot Camp.  WOOHOO!  Great Lakes, IL is the base location for ALL Navy boot camp recruits and lucky for us, it's only 5 hours from our house.  This meant EVERYONE was able to travel north to see Jon!  He only received four tickets for the actual ceremony, but because our family is awesome, TWENTY FOUR people made the trek to Great Lakes to spend the day with Jon.  Is he loved or what?!  We all stayed at the same hotel and were able to rig the lobby TV to the computer to play the live stream of the ceremony so we could watch.  It was really an incredible ceremony and I'm so glad we could follow along and cheer when Jon walked by (at least we think it was Jon).

Ok, things did start off a little shaky with this crew in charge of the TV stuff, but thankfully they were able to pull it off!
Great Lakes hosts graduation EVERY Friday so it was kinda weird that the hotel didn't have the ceremony automatically streamed.  When we were able to hook the computer up to the tv, tons of other families joined us to watch.  Then when I checked the hotels facebook page, they had this picture on it with the caption describing their "boot camp graduation viewing theater".  What?!

It's official...Jon is a UNITED STATES SAILOR!!
The girls took a quick dip in the pool before Jon arrived at the hotel.  How fun is it that my best friends brother married my sister, so our girls share cousins and can celebrate these big moments together?!

And here he is!!!  Rock star reception for sure!
Everyone was SO excited to see him!  Can't imagine how we'll all act when he's shipped off for longer than 9 weeks!

Woah!  Who is this guy?!  Gained 20 pounds, shaved his head, and he's wearing glasses!  ~Trevor was a bit confused at first :)
 You read that right...Jon gained 20 pounds in boot camp.  Who does that?!  I heard another sailor in the lobby tell his parents he lost 13 pounds.  Jon has always been freakishly you could see every bone in his back (yes, he takes after me..ahem), so it was crazy to see him with his face all filled out and meat on his bones!  I'm thinking  a) he was worked so hard in boot camp that he actually ate three big meals a day, b) my sisters cooking is awful and he was finally fed food he would actually eat, or c) all of the above.  Hmmm....
This is the picture our hotel staff took and put on their website.  May be the biggest family they've hosted!
Cate stayed close to Jon all day...she has missed him!

 Ken and Kathy rented a suite and Precious Mother II and Ed had a connecting room, so we had plenty of space to hang out in before dinner.  We pretty much made Jon sit on the couch and answer the zillion questions we had about boot camp.  I alone asked at least's all so fascinating! 
Cate wore her favorite "God Bless America" swimsuit :)

 We had the entire second floor of the restaurant to ourselves so we had lots of room to spread out and take TONS of pictures!

 After visiting the commissary to purchase new NAVY gear, we said our goodbyes to Jon and headed home...he had to be back in his barracks by 8pm because he was set to leave for Pensacola bright and early the next morning.  So, basically, we all drove to Chicago to take Jon to lunch but it was so very worth it to be there, spend a few hours with him, and show him so much love and support!  Only thing that could have made the weekend better is if my dad would have been there with us...but I know he's watching over him and telling anyone who will listen to "Can you believe this?!?" 

How many Smallie's does it take to figure out FaceTime?!

Now that he in Pensacola, FL for "A" school, he has his phone and computer back and we are able to talk to him whenever we want. The kids love to FaceTime him and they send him lots of texts :)  We're hoping that he will have some time to come home after he finishes A would be extra nice if it were during Thanksgiving or Christmas, but we'll take whatever we can get!


Monday, September 2, 2013

picture perfect

I interrupt end-of-summer/school updates to share our recent photo shoot with the fabulous Kelly Manno.  We survived snakes, goose poop, and the heat, but I think they turned out perfect!!!  I chose their wardrobe colors to match my living room color scheme and I can't wait to get them framed and up on my walls!  These are a few of my faves....

This took a few takes to get right.  The idea was to run down the hill and let Cate win.  Yeah right.  My boys are far too competitive to "let" anyone win, so after a few all-out sprints, we made them stand still while Cate ran by herself :)

Check out the goose poop on Ben's butt!


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